During online job-hunts, a job-seeker fills out many, many, job application portal forms. While ClearanceJobs.com and the Cleared Network are a great place to search for jobs, many defense contracting companies require applying through their own portals.   It’s tedious.  It’s redundant. There are many significant problems with these job application portals.  One small one:  applicants need passwords and logins for every single portal.  And the security conscious job-seeker wants unique passwords for every single portal.  I counted over 100 different logins and passwords that I use before I reached companies on my password list beginning with “I.”  But there’s a way to deal with this pain:  password and form managers.  That’s right—you can keep random passwords secure AND have a way to fill out forms with one command.

Password Management Solutions

For those who don’t know, password managers, like Lastpass and Keepass, are software applications used to store and organize a user’s website passwords and logins.  A lot of them are free.  My password files and logins are stored by the password manager locally and in the cloud.  Reputable password managers protect my information very well, encrypting the data.  All I need to do is remember ONE very strong master password and one login. Some password managers are security savvy enough to have options for two-factor authentication (and if users are smart, two-factor authentication is enabled).

Two-factor (or multi-factor) authentication is a fancy term for needing two items or more to gain access to an online account.  Most military/civilian folks use two-factor authentication for government accounts using their common access card (CAC), and typing in a number.  RSA key fobs are an example of this type of security, too.

This means the master password and a randomized number generated from hardware like the RSA key, or software such as Google Authenticator and Microsoft Authenticator, will reduce chances of someone gaining unauthorized access to my password account.  One thing to know:  forgetting the master password to a very secure password manager normally means kissing that whole account good-bye.  There’s no way to recover from that.  But enough technical description—go to Lastpass, Keepass, or some other password manager to see if one will be useful.  Make absolutely sure you can trust the application—read reviews before deciding which one to go with.

I use the Lastpass password manager to help keep my form and password-related suffering to a minimum.  There are other password managers available, but since Lastpass is what I use day to day, it will be what I use for my examples in this article.  Lastpass is not paying or compensating me in any way to talk about their software.  But it fulfills my needs pretty well.  Especially since it’s free.

I not only use Lastpass for organizing and saving my passwords, I also use the password manager to generate passwords for job application portals.  Once I have created a login with that password, Lastpass offers to save those for me using the site’s name.  After a while and many, many company job application sites, I have a long list.  A bonus to using this software is it can be integrated as a plug-in into browsers such as Firefox, Chrome, or Internet Explorer.  The password manager will offer to fill out the password and login fields of job application portals I’ve already created accounts for.  It’s very convenient and nifty.

Password Managers to Save Time

Lastpass also allows me to save information, like my address, phone number, etc.  So I use this part of the software to fill out the address and education fields the job application portals typically use.  It’s really nice, because I can also create customized fields with corresponding information already filled in.  This technique must save me about twenty minutes of time when filling out forms.  I have not found a way to save employment history fields, as these seem to vary too much for the password management software to cope with it.  But that’s not the software’s fault—it wasn’t really designed for this kind of heavy work.

You can imagine a password manager with all the logins, passwords, and other information is a big target with great rewards for anyone who can hack in.  So the password I use needs to be strong—and I use two-factor authentication.  And my computer, even the one at home (in case of break-in), is password protected.  As is my smartphone.

Hopefully the above software and techniques will be helpful to you.  If you use other sorts of software to help you out with job application portals, please let me know.

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John Holst’s career path is as nonsensical and mad as the March Hare. In a series of what John thought were very trusting decisions, the United States Air Force let him babysit nuclear weapons, develop future officers, and then operate multi-billion dollar space systems. Then John re-enacted scenes from “Brazil” by joining the Missile Defense Agency, working as minutes-taker, configuration, project, mission, and test manager. When he’s not writing for Clearancejobs.com, he is putting his journalism degree skills to use as The Mad Spaceball.